This month's walk in MDB was in a word, magical. I chose to complete my eighth and final Wainwright of the year by ascending Helvellyn, standing at 950m (3,120ft) and being England's third largest mountain I was following on from my previous two months outings by smashing my ascent record. Using my OL5 map and my AW book one, I planned a straight up and down route, not my usual style but the conditions and short daylight hours called upon it.
On route, I took a detour off the A591 to view one of Lakeland's most beautiful stretches of water, Thirlmere. This reservoir provides water for the population of Manchester and fish (Brown Trout, Char, Perch and Pike) for those lucky anglers to spend a day there. A really special spot.
I chose to park in a handy lay-by. Once I was booted up and had consumed a refreshing brew I walked from my parked car along the roadside verge to nearby Swirls Car Park. At the far end there is a little footbridge, once over this the well signposted route starts here.
The lower parts of the walk are set among the Autumnal bracken and the terminating waterfall from Helvellyn Gill on well made paths. There is a possibility to branch off, pardon the pun, on a separate woodland walk but Helvellyn was where I was headed today.
As soon as I start to gain height the ground begun to be become frosty and there was a sudden and noticeable change of air temperature.
The brilliant views over Thirlmere and snow topped High Rigg were becoming more present as I took a look behind me.
The now very icy and and finely snow covered path takes you passed a small ruin.
The stunning Lakeland fell panorama was opening up behind me.
A glimpse of Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance.
Me, well my shadow, and a snow capped Blencathra
The further I climbed the more snowy and wintery the landscape became. It was as if I had traveled through Autumn to full blown Winter in less than half an hour.
The perfect high Lakeland winter landscape.
The path became really snowy by the time I reached Browncove Crags.
Lower Man provided wonderful views.
The final push before the summit plateau.
I shall never forgot the summit of Helvellyn, I found a number of surprises there and each was incredible. Red Tarn, flanked by Striding Edge looked perfect surrounded by pristine snow.
A solitary Raven kept the crowd fascinated with its swooping aerial acrobatics and distinctive cry.
As the cloud came in over the summit MDB, and their new winter additional snow grips, and I hunkered down in the snow.
Looking out over Swirral Edge toward neighbouring Wainwright, Catstye Cam and Ullswater in the far distance.
The Summit Trig Point.... Once I touched this I realised a simple fact that at over 3,000ft this was the highest point I had ever climbed to in the UK, pretty cool I thought.
The next thing that occurred to me was beyond anything I could have wished for.... My first ever Brocken Spectre! I am still pinching myself at the truly awesome sight of it. Maybe a sign from Dad that he approved of my choice of today's outing.
As AW noted I chose to eat my butties and brewed up at the superbly constructed drystone built, X shelter seat that can be found a little way round to right of the trig point.
Once I had spent some time lingering on the top I noticed the time and thought I'd better be getting myself back down as did others, looking behind I noticed the sky was so blue and the Moon was so clear.
The sun was setting beautifully as I descended.
Helvellyn is the hub for a number of other Wainwright peaks so I know I'll be visiting it again, but for today I would go as far as to say that was a winter day out to rival all others. I felt like a real mountaineer, I beat a personal best, witnessed a rare Brocken Spectre and had a fab snow day and not had to drive home in it, so just about perfect. I think I found the fell in its absolute wintery best. Loved it entirely. I'm looking forward to next month's adventure already.
Till next time.... Tight laces. MDB x
Phil, Thank you!